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Popol Vuh: Sacred Book of the Ancient Maya

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Popol Vuh: Sacred Book of the Ancient Maya. Electronic Library. Translated and edited by Allen J. Christenson. Distributed for the Center for Preservation of Ancient Religious texts, Brigham Young University, by University of Texas Press, Austin: 2007. (1 CD-ROM.) ISBN 10: 0-292-71683-4. ISBN 13: 978-0-292-71683-4.

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - July 2, 2007

Almost all of the Maya codices survived the Spanish conquest of the Maya lands, and the quest of the 16th century Catholic missionaries to destroy all of the 'pagan' Maya hieroglyphic texts. In an attempt to preserve as much of their cultural heritage as possible, many literate Mayans set out to transcribe as many of these ancient texts as possible into a modified Latin script. By doing so, when the original hieroglyphic texts where destroyed, they would still have a written record of these priceless books. One such book was the Popol Vuh.

In Popol Vuh: Sacred Book of the Ancient Maya electronic database, you will find high-resolution scans of the Newberry Library Popol Vuh Manuscript, which is one of the oldest known copies of the Popol Vuh. As well, this database is brimming with a host of additional material that will enthrall Mesoamerican scholars, students of all ages, and anyone with an interest in ancient Maya culture and history. In addition to the scan of the Popol Vuh text you'll also find a transcription of the text in both modern and original K''iche (Quiché), along with transliterations of the same, plus a Spanish translation of the text, and a new English translation of the text, by Allen J. Christenson. His translation is based upon the original Maya text, rather than on a Spanish translation of the text. Christenson is an Associate Professor of Humanities at Brigham Young University, and he is also the editor of this phenomenal resource.

Most important, especially for scholars, this electronic database is fully searchable, the text is throughly cross-linked, and you can bookmark your place, as well as view the various texts, translations, transliterations, or multilingual combinations simultaneously via the use of a split screen. This database also includes audio files that feature native Quiché speakers reading the text, hundreds of photographs and images of Maya art, architecture, flora, fauna, and people. Relevant maps are also included. Extensive notes, many of which can easily pass as essays, are also included that cover a variety of topics from Maya culture and history, to a detailed overview of the history and importance of the Popol Vuh text. An integrated dictionary, and a detailed and up-to-date bibliography are also included.

The Popol Vuh electronic database is contained on a single CD that is designed for use on Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems. The contents of the entire CD can be easily installed on your computer by following the on-screen prompts. This database is an invaluable and unique resource for anyone with an academic or personal interest in any aspect of Maya studies, including Maya culture, history, and language.


Related Reviews:

Kaqchikel Chronicles, translation and exegesis by Judith M. Maxwell and Robert M. Hill II.
Contains the only translation of the entire Chronicles, including all the texts of the Annals of the Kaqchikels and the Xpantzay Carulary.

La ütz awäch? Introduction to Kaqchikel Maya Language, by R. McKenna Brown, Judith M. Maxwell, & Walter E. Little.
A workbook-styled introductory text on Kaqchikel Maya language that is designed to give English-speakers an overview of the language and provide students with the necessary vocabulary and grammar skills to carry on a basic conversation.

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